Andy: Depp hasn’t been the can’t-miss talent we once came to love for a decade. While Depp’s muted performance here DOES make sense, it’s not very fun to watch. The problem lies in the script, as much as in Depp’s choices. This film’s structure requires the female lead to carry most of the action. Depp becomes an AI about 30 minutes in, so it’s incumbent upon Hall to carry the movie while Depp is locked on a computer screen. Hall is usually great, but something falls flat here, both in her character’s development and in the performance. With Depp trapped in a computer, Hall isn’t able to overcome a dimly-imagined character. Meanwhile, the fake science runs rampant (nano-byte technology changes everything!), with the movie diverging into tedium the longer it goes on.
Ryan: I do think part of the problem with “Transcendence” and why it basically bombed at the box-office is that the movie’s marketing left much to be desired. The movie does have an apocalyptic bend, but the film is being strongly marketed as man vs. machine, when, in actuality, the story takes a more nuanced view regarding the next step of human/technological evolution (clearly it’s not as nuanced as last year’s “Her,” which is a vastly superior film). But unfortunately “Transcendence” takes a very convoluted path telling its story, which detracts from its more lofty ambitions.
“Transcendence” has some very compelling concepts, but ultimately leaves the audience wishing for something a little more fully formed. Final grade: C-.